Olive oil has amazing health benefits, that is, if it’s actually olive oil in the bottle.
Olive oil is rich in flavor, and research suggests it’s great for your health. Olive oil contains essential fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and phenolics, which are plant-based compounds that have anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting qualities. Replacing saturated fats, like those found in butter, with monounsaturated fats (the type of fat predominant in olive oil) may lower cholesterol levels and protect the heart.
The world consumes almost 3 million tons of olive oil annually and the demand for this heart-healthy oil continues to rise. But not all olive oil is the same. Approximately 700 varieties of olive oil are on the market, and they vary in flavor and quality depending on a wide range of factors like price, acidity level from age, region of growth, production date, and production methods.
Unfortunately, olive oil production is poorly regulated and labeling laws are nearly non-existent, resulting in low-quality—and sometimes even non-olive oils—being passed off as extra virgin olive oil. Real extra-virgin olive oil has a green coloring and distinct flavor, but, sometimes, low-grade soybean oil, canola oil, and even olive oil produced from rancid olives, are masked through coloring with industrial chlorophyll and flavor-altered with beta-carotene. Fraudulent practices result in a significant reduction of health benefits while making it difficult for honest olive oil producers to compete in the marketplace. “Lately the olive oil industry has been struggling with a wrenching crisis brought on by mass-market price wars and a flood of low quality olive oil—a lot of it falsely labeled extra virgin,” wrote Curtis Cord, the executive editor of The Olive Oil Times.
Most olive oil frauds are easy to detect through chemical processes, but how does the average consumer find the real deal? In his book, Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, Tom Mueller suggests a variety of ways that consumers can find good quality olive oil. Here are 10 of his suggestions: Read on here